Featured Plant

Rosmarinus sp.

Profile:

Scientific Name: Rosmarinus sp.

Common Names: Rosemary

Family: Lamiaceae

Plant Type: Shrub

Environment:Full sun, well-drained soil and sparse watering once established, can also tolerate salt spray and wind

Bloom: Pale to dark blue flowers appear almost year-round

Uses: Border and ornamental plants, great for cascading down walls and grow well in containers

Other: The family Lamiaceae is known for having fragrant, opposite leaves, and square stems (in most genera)

Not all rosemary are used for seasoning food; those with strong pine or turpentine fragrances should be avoided when cooking

September

About

Rosmarinus sp.

Fragrances from Mediterranean shores and its islands were described in ancient tales of sailors. When they couldn't see the land under foggy conditions, they could smell it. The name for this unique habitat of vegetation is the Maquis. Filled with rosemary and thyme, marjoram and sages, rockroses and mints and all the other pungent evergreen herbs that thrive in the rocky soils and sun-filled spaces of Crete, Corsica, Greece, Sicily and Italy and all the islands in between, the summer seems to last forever. We've recreated this world in the newly renovated Mediterranean Garden on the south side of Heidelberg Hill, with rosemary as one of the key aromatic plantings.

Rosmarinus translates from Latin into "dew of the sea". The plants are woody perennials that like well-drained soil, sparse watering and full sun; the best soil being a combination of sand mixed with gravel. Short linear grey-green leaves are packed along each stem with pale blue flowers in the axils. Flowers and leaves exude a fragrance that attracts bees to the nectar hidden under the anthers which are tipped with blue pollen. Rosemary is beloved by gardeners for its evergreen leaves in winter, its sweet-smelling presence and its longevity.

There are countless myths and legends about the efficacy of rosemary through the ages. Greek scholars wore garlands of it to help with memory; brides carried a sprig in their bouquet for happiness; to Shakespeare, it symbolized remembrance. It is thought to contain certain medicinal properties for boosting the immune system, but to date nothing has been proven. Come visit over 13 cultivars of rosemary, including 'Tuscan Blue' and 'Foxtail', that can be found in the Garden of Fragrance and the Mediterranean Garden.

IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS:
Text by Kathy McNeil. Photos by Joanne Taylor. Profile by David Kruse-Pickler

ARCHIVES: IN-BLOOM

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San Francisco Botanical Garden is a public/private partnership between San Francisco Botanical Garden Society and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.